Duke protesters reject school’s concessions

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Duke University President Richard Brodhead announced some major concessions Wednesday evening, moves that were swiftly rejected by protesters as the disruption on the Duke campus hurtled into a new phase.

In a statement sent to the Duke community, Brodhead said Duke “will be taking the following steps to address issues of respect, civility, wages, and inclusiveness for staff.”

Brodhead said Duke will:

  • Have an independent expert to review the grievance and complaint procedures for Duke staff
  • Review the guidelines for contractors and their employees
  • Raise awareness of processes for the recruitment and review of senior administrators
  • Look to raise the Duke minimum wage of $12 an hour

Previous: Duke protesters say school didn’t need to close Allen Building

But Brodhead’s gesture did not end the stalemate. Half an hour later, the students said Duke’s concessions were too vague.

The students insisted that Duke:

  • Publish the review of an independent expert on its home page
  • commit to paying all workers $12.53 an hour by Dec. 31 and to $15 an hour over three years
  • offer basic health care coverage to all workers

The protesters said they want accountability for Duke and living wages for its employees. If their conditions are not met, the protests will continue.

“While we are pleased that the administration has returned to the table, we believe the actions are too vague, non-committal, and non-comprehensive to be sufficient for exiting the building,” said Danielle Purifoy, a Duke student participating in the protest.

Duke said Wednesday night that the Allen Building would be closed for regular business on Thursday and the classes were being relocated.

“All of them except for eight are moving forward with the business of the university: teaching, research, learning. This is a distraction that we’re all working through,” said Michael Schoenfeld, vice president of public affairs and government relations at Duke.

“The students have raised a number of important issues. We’re grateful for that, we’re grateful for the passion they have brought to this.”

The protesters also confirmed that one student had left.

Protester at Duke on Monday at the Allen building. (WNCN)
PHOTOS: Protest at Duke University

Anastasia Karklina of Duke Students and Workers in Solidarity confirmed Wednesday that Amy Wang has left to attend a poetry slam contest in Texas. Wang hopes to rejoin the protesters Sunday if the sit-in continues.

The protest began Friday in a reception area outside the office of school President Richard Brodhead. School officials have said they won’t negotiate with the students until they leave the building but the students say they’re staying.

The students want three administrators fired, including one involved in a dispute with a parking attendant. The attendant has sued, accusing the administrator of using a racial slur.

The protesters continued to demand the dismissal of three Duke administrators.

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